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Judge dismisses FirstEnergy Solutions nuclear plant bonus plan, would exclude union members

September 19, 2018

Judge dismisses FirstEnergy Solutions nuclear plant bonus plan, would exclude union members

CLEVELAND, Ohio --The FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. has failed to convince a bankruptcy judge that its plan to give bonuses to 1,000 nuclear plant workers, none of them union members, makes good business sense.

FENOC had proposed spending nearly $100 million to bankroll a bonus plan, known as a KERP, or Key Employee Retention Plan, under bankruptcy law, to give about 1,000 of its 2,300 nuclear plant workers generous bonuses if they continued to work until the reactors are shut down in 2020 and 2021.

In a decision late Tuesday, Judge Alan Koschik wrote that the plan would not only be discriminatory, but also that the company had not proven it would make good business sense.

“It is undisputed that the proposed KERP discriminates between union and non-union personnel ... while no union employees would receive any bonus,” he wrote

“The burden is on the Debtors [FENOC] to prove a sound business reason for this discrimination, i.e., that this discrimination was not unfair. They did not do so.”

The judge noted that the KERP as proposed “relies too often on stereotypes instead of reasonable judgement,” an apparent reference to an assertion during hearings by labor lawyer Joyce Goldstein, representing the plant unions, that “the current plan is based on a lot of speculation - and, significantly, that speculation has been colored by prejudicial, class-based stereotypes, not objective evidence.”

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